It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get a Winter Olympic gold medal, especially if you come from a country known more for beaches than mountains.
For Australia’s new Olympic champion Jakara Anthony it also took a Brisbane water training facility for fine-tuning her gold medal run on an icy Beijing night.
The sunny climes of Brisbane – and about a 50 degree temperature swing from icy Beijing – is where mogul skier Jakara Anthony honed her Olympic gold medal-winning run.
For years, Australia’s mogul and aerial skiers were forced overseas to practice their jumps, or had to use a ramp into a freezing and dirty dam in the Victorian Yarra Valley.
But in late 2020, a purpose-built training centre – the Geoff Henke Olympic Winter Training Centre, named after the long-time Winter Olympic team Chef de Mission – was opened.
The $6.5 million facility has ramps of varying heights, with skiers landing in a pool below, allowing them to perfect their jumps – a key component of moguls racing.
Anthony said she practised a new jump around 2000 times there before introducing it into her run, and it set her apart from her Olympic rivals in Beijing.
“To have the new water ramp facility in Australia is really game-changing for winter sport,” Anthony said after her gold medal win on Sunday night.
“It means we don’t have to travel internationally so much and we can just duck up and train some jumps while we’re on snow.
“Particularly in these last couple of years with COVID when it hasn’t been easy to get overseas to access those facilities, it’s really been a game changer.
“It’s massive for freestyle skiing in Australia.”
Alisa Camplin, who was Australia’s first female Winter Olympics gold medallist, predicted the facility would see more talent flow into winter sports.
As deputy team Chef de Mission at the Games, she was leading the celebrations after Anthony’s dominant win.
“You need more people in the development and participation program rising through the ranks and now we can train and school and work at home like everyone else in the world has been doing for the past 20 years,” Camplin said.
“It’s really going to mean the depth of talent is going to be able to propagate.
“It’s not just the water ramp, it’s the air bag in Jindabyne and all the investment that’s been made across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, it’s phenomenal.
“What we were able to achieve in the past has unlocked the desire to keep supporting winter sport and all of Australia is going to fall in love with these athletes.”